The trickle-down effect of Peyton Manning's decision to join the Denver Broncos has battered quarterback egos everywhere from South Beach to Rocky Top, but it's the San Francisco 49ers that have the most to lose.
"We have a contract on the table, and it's up to him," 49ers CEO Jed York told reporters, indicating the three-year, $24 million offer extended to Smith, a figure not far from what Matt Flynn received in Seattle after starting two just games in the NFL.
Admirable of York to stick to his guns, but after the team lost out on Manning, it's Smith who holds the cards. Peyton he's not, but Smith was more than just a functional quarterback in Harbaugh's offense last season, and the drop-off to Colin Kaepernick would be fierce for a team that came within one game of Super Bowl XLVI.
One encouraging sign for the 49ers? Smith's career choices beyond San Francisco are unfriendly at best. It's unclear how serious Smith is about the Dolphins, who signed David Garrard on Monday, but marching into that grim scenario lacks promise.
It's an unsettling moment for a team with so much promise heading into next season.